News / Africa

Sudan Military May be Poised for Major Offensive

Satellite image of helicopters at the Sudanese airbase at Kidugli.
Satellite image of helicopters at the Sudanese airbase at Kidugli.
Joe DeCapua

Analysts say new satellite images of Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State indicate a major government military offensive is about to begin against the Nuba people.  The images were released Wednesday by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP).

Government forces have been fighting the rebel SPLA-North Sector in Southern Kordofan, causing thousands of civilians to flee to South Sudan.

“What we’re seeing is the grounds for issuing a Human Security Alert, which we issued today,” said Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which analyzed the images.“Satellite imagery collected by DigitalGlobe has captured evidence of road construction and the presence of heavy armor units in position to the Kauda Valley. The Kauda Valley is where at least 200,000 civilians of the Nuba people are currently taking refuge,” he said.

No escape?

Images also indicate the route that’s been used by thousands of civilians to cross into South Sudan appears to be under the control of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Raymond said the route “appears to be blocked, limiting the movement of civilians who may still be trying to flee the Kauda Valley and the Nuba mountains.”

There are also images of an airbase where improvements are being made.

“We see the construction of an airstrip at Talodi, which is approximately 30 miles or 50 kilometers from Kauda Valley. Why this is important is that the runway there is being lengthened to approximately 1800 meters. It takes 1500 to 1550 meters to land an Antonov. An Antonov is the plane which has been used to drop bombs and explosive ordinance of many types. With this new strip, they will be able to conduct high tempo air operations into the Kauda Valley, combined with the infrastructure improvements needed to deploy heavy armor in coordination with that air support,” said Raymond.

Witnesses say it was an Antonov plane that dropped bombs Monday on a refugee center just across the border from Southern Kordofan in South Sudan. Images also show helicopter gunships at the Kadugli airbase

The Satellite Sentinel Project issued a Human Security Alert last year for the disputed oil rich region of Abyei two months before it was attacked by Sudanese forces. “We saw almost an identical force pattern and infrastructure pattern prior to the invasion of Abyei region,” said Raymond.

Final assault

Analysts believe the military offensive could begin soon. “At this point, there’s approximately 8 to 9 weeks before the start of the rainy season. And it makes sense based on the very clear statements of indicted war criminal Governor Ahmed Haroun and President Bashir that they intend to take the Kauda Valley, if possible, likely before the rainy season begins again,” he said.

The Satellite Sentinel Project said the images indicate “preparation for a final assault against the Nuba people.” It said when the fighting began last June in Southern Kordofan there were more than one million Nuba people in the state. It estimates there are now between 200,000 and 400,000.

“During that time you have had more than half of the Nuba population killed, displaced internally or displaced into South Sudan,” he said, adding, “It is crucial to note that this is occurring with the backdrop of what we call a green famine. The Famine Early Warning System, the United Nations and the U.S. government have made it very clear that the food security situation in the Nuba Mountains and the Kauda Valley is precarious.”

The SSP said reports from the ground say the price of sorghum has skyrocketed.

Raymond said, “People are eating reserve foods and in some cases eating bark and leaves. If there is not immediate humanitarian assistance into this restricted area, it is a very real possibility that a famine could occur by some estimates as early as March. And we’re talking 200,000 civilians at least cut off from escape, cut off from humanitarian aid and cut off from protection.”

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid